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baalbeck wedding
One of the cars that was torched during the wedding fight in Baalbeck, July 28, 2019.

Three people have been killed after a brawl turned into an exchange of gunfire during a wedding near the ancient Lebanese city of Baalbek, Lebanon’s National News Agency says.

The singer who performed during the wedding was among those killed in the deadly brawl after midnight that also injured four people on Sunday, according to several local news stations.

Gunshots were heard in the area after news spread in the locality, with the army and security forces stepping up their presence to pre-empt any backlash, the state news agency said.

Local media reported the first shots were allegedly fired by a man at the wedding who was infuriated by the song’s lyrics. The singer apparently was praising some of the family members in song, before turning to one of the attendees and telling him, “This is not for you.”

The clash   between members of the Zoaiter and Amhaz families erupted when the man  who was infuriated by the song’s lyrics  opened fire at the wedding’s singer and his brother, killing them on the spot, before he was shot dead.

Four others were wounded, including another pair of brothers . NNA identified the brothers as Aa.Z. and A.Z. . All were transported to nearby hospitals.

The Baalbek neighborhood of al-Sharawneh later witnessed unrest during which machineguns and RPGs were fired into the air in protest at the death of members of the Zoaiter family.

Television images showed at least three burnt-out cars.

The Lebanese Army was dispatched to the area to contain the situation.

Later in the day, the Army said in a statement that a soldier was wounded when a group shot at a patrol. The wounded soldier was transferred to a nearby hospital.

Lawless

hezbollah-in-black-paradeBaalbek , which lies near the Syrian border in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, is widely under the influence of clans. According to the area’s governor Bashir Khodr, there are 37,000 arrest warrants against 1,200 wanted individuals.
The Lebanese army has been lately active in confronting outlaws in the area, which witnessed an unprecedented deterioration in the security situation in the aftermath of the parliamentary elections last May.

Last November, four notorious fugitives were killed in a gunfight during a Lebanese army raid in Baalbek’s al-Sharawneh neighborhood. Among the dead was Ali Jaafar, who had 200 warrants against him.

According to military sources, security agencies have arrested 2,324 fugitives in Baalbek-Hermel in the first six months of 2018, a high rate compared to 2017 when 2,349 individuals were detained throughout the year.

The head of Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA), Riyad Qahwaji said that as long as some armed factions continue to enjoy political support, security agencies would not be able to eliminate them.

Several groups, such as the Resistance Brigades, remained armed under the excuse of being affiliated with the “Resistance” or Hezbollah, which is the only Lebanese party that refused  to hand over its weapons to the state at the end of the civil war, he said.

Reuters/YL

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